By  on December 4, 2009

Change is afoot at Harry Winston.

Frédéric de Narp will take the reins from Thomas J. O’Neill, who is stepping down from his role as president and chief executive officer of Harry Winston Inc. De Narp’s appointment at the New York-based jewelry and watch brand, owned by Harry Winston Diamond Corp., is effective Jan. 4 and came a day after his resignation as president and ceo of Cartier North America on Thursday.

During his five-year tenure at Winston, O’Neill grew the Winston boutique network to 19, with stores throughout Asia and elsewhere, and parlayed the firm from a family-owned business headed by Ronald Winston, the founder’s son, to a publicly traded firm on the New York Stock Exchange. A company spokeswoman said O’Neill is retiring.

Named president and ceo of Cartier North America in 2005, the Braittany, France-born De Narp, 40, brought a lot of attention to the Cartier brand with the successful push of the Love campaign of jewelry and watches, splashy celebrity-focused events and the rare U.S. launch of a high jewelry collection. He began his run at Cartier 18 years ago in Japan and worked in the Compagnie Financière Richemont-owned firm’s satellite offices throughout Tokyo, Switzerland, Italy and Greece before arriving in the U.S.

“We are delighted that Frédéric will be joining Harry Winston Inc.,” said Robert Gannicott, chairman and ceo of Harry Winston Diamond Corp. “He has an innate ability for understanding the luxury consumer’s needs in the United States and globally. Frédéric brings high energy, as well as a clear vision of the relevance of luxury and jewelry to the modern world. His industry expertise, combined with our company’s unrivaled position in the market, will play an integral role in the development and growth of the Harry Winston business and brand internationally.”

De Narp said, “Harry Winston is rooted in rich tradition and history.” He said he looked forward to leading “this world-renowned brand and contributing to its ongoing innovation in luxury watches and modern couture jewelry.”

Harry Winston Diamond Corp., which supplies rough diamonds to the global market from its 40 percent ownership interest in Diavik Diamond Mine, reported an operating loss of $5.6 million for the three months ended July 31, versus an operating profit of $5.9 million a year earlier, amid significant layoffs. In the U.S. alone, revenue decreased 48 percent to $15 million.

The Diavik mine produces 10 percent of the world’s diamonds — nine million to 10 million carats a year — which it sells to Winston and other suppliers.

Prior to his run at Winston, O’Neill was president of Burberry, headed LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s jewelry division, Louis Vuitton Americas and Marc Jacobs and was vice president of Tiffany & Co.

He had hopes to double Winston’s store count to 45 and to bring sales to the $1 billion mark, but during the recession, such goals proved too lofty.

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